LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Ready or not, Ohio, the bar’s open and the soup’s on!
Restaurants and Taverns across the state reopen today, and with that comes more than a little uncertainty. I’ve just been checking out the rules and guidelines laid out under the state’s "Responsible Restart Program," and I’ve got to tell you guys, they run the gamut from vague to logistically problematic to "Does this really even need to be said?"
For example, two of the new guidelines require "daily cleaning for the entire establishment" and "regular hand washing by employees."
I’m sorry, but were places not already doing those things before the pandemic? This is what it took?
Face coverings are required to be be worn by employees at all times, with some exceptions. By that, I mean "many exceptions." including one that says employees don’t have to wear a mask "if there is a functional (practical) reason for an employee not to wear one."
That seems pretty subjective. Say, for example, I claim I can’t wear a mask because I have chronic halitosis and that submitting myself to my own bad breath for a whole shift is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Would my employer challenge me on that? Maybe, but if so, I’ll bet I could find a lawyer to take my case. (Hello, Tim Misny)
Bars are also required to post a list of COVID-19 symptoms in a conspicuous place and to ask customers and guests not to enter if they are feeling symptomatic, which means I guess we’re essentially working on the honor system, but with a plague.
For safety reasons, dining parties are now limited to no more that 10 people. Whoa! Only 10 people? Way to lay the hammer down Ohio. Who is this rule meant to discourage? End of the Year High School Sports Banquets?
Once inside, customers are required to keep 6 feet away from each other, I guess unless they’re with the people that they came with? Cause you can be near them, right? But If you run into someone you know at the bar, I guess you just have wave from afar. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.
Bar games like pool and darts are off limits until further notice, because that Golden T machine is apparently a bacterial petri dish. Also, you have to be seated while you’re eating, which is obviously bad news for people who love crushing chicken quesadillas while standing on the dance floor.
Also, there is currently no dance floor. That’s right, folks. Ohio is now like the town from Footloose where dancing was illegal.
Does everyone have all that? (Let’s do a quick practice run!)
Just to be clear, I totally recognize that there’s no perfect way to do this and I don’t envy anyone the task of trying to set guidelines that both keep everybody safe and still don’t hinder a restaurant from being able to function successfully. Believe me when I say that I want restaurants and bars to be open again. I love bars. I was raised in them.
I’m just trying to point out some of the complications that these places are going to be up against during this time, and to remind everyone that if you do go out this weekend, please be patient with the waitstaff and employees and remember that they don’t have all the answers and we’re all trying to figure this out together.
And kitchen staff: Please remember that new-fangled rule that says that you now have to wash your hands. We’re all making have sacrifices right now.
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